John Frawley Named New Minnesota Zoo Director/President

APPLE VALLEY, Minn., Jan. 27, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Minnesota Zoological Garden Board of Directors has formally elected Minnesota native and nationally-recognized conservation leader John Frawley as its new director/president. Frawley, named the final candidate for the position based on the unanimous recommendation of the Zoo's search committee, will succeed Lee Ehmke who resigned in August, 2015. Frawley will begin his position at the Zoo, which also includes presidency of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation, on February 16, 2016.
"It's been 26 years since I was a zookeeper at the Minnesota Zoo," says Frawley. "But I'm coming home to more than just the Zoo; I'm coming home to Minnesota where I grew up exploring the state's great outdoors. The animals and the ecosystems here are part of who I am and how I learned to value and love the natural world."
Frawley, who currently serves as the president and CEO of San Francisco-based, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit working to protect, restore, and inspire conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed from the Sierra to the sea, is a nationally-recognized leader within the zoo and aquarium community. An award-winning visionary and passionate conservationist, he brings a strong record of success and commitment to wildlife conservation efforts through his work in the Bay Area, as an entrepreneurial business leader, and as a former employee of the Minnesota Zoo. He has received numerous commendations for his leadership, innovation and public service.
Says U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman, who represents California's second congressional district: "John has played a key role in environmental and educational efforts throughout the San Francisco Bay and its watershed. While we'll miss his enthusiasm, leadership and vision, I know that John is excited to put his love for nature and conservation to work in his home state. Minnesota is lucky to have him back.
Adds Peter Maritz, chair of the Minnesota Zoo Board of Directors: "After a rigorous process that involved contact with more than 200 potential candidates for the role, we are excited to welcome John as the Zoo's new president/CEO. He brings a compelling background and skill set to the role that is going to serve this Zoo particularly well. His Minnesota roots, record of building successful public and private partnerships, and expertise in conservation-related issues are perfectly matched to the needs of our institution. John is excited to reestablish roots here in Minnesota and begin working with the individuals and organizations who can help us fulfill our mission to save wildlife."

As Frawley looks ahead to his early tenure, he says: "In my first few months, I will of course dedicate a lot of time to getting to know the board, staff and volunteers who have led the Zoo so well. That said, I'm equally motivated to reach out and connect with friends and supporters of the Zoo's work and mission. Whether I'm at the Zoo or out in the community, I look forward to getting started right away."
Frawley will also be actively engaged in the Minnesota Zoo's legislative activities in support for the Governor's recommended capital investment funding. The Governor has recommended a bonding allocation that would complete the renewal of the Zoo's snow monkey exhibit, add a permanent meerkat exhibit, improve guest amenities in the main building, and fund much-needed repairs to aging structures throughout the 485-acre campus.
Frawley's selection caps an extensive global search process led by Lyman Doran, a locally-based executive search firm. Lyman Dorman previously conducted the search that brought Lee Ehmke to the Zoo in 2000.
About John Frawley
For Frawley, alum of both Red Wing High School and Minnesota State University (MSU), the opportunity to lead the Minnesota Zoo is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and full-circle journey. After graduating from MSU with a degree in recreation, parks & leisure services – wildlife & resource management/biology, he spent two years at Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas before returning to work as a Minnesota Zoo zookeeper from 1988-1992. Frawley then worked on the developing and park management team for the grand opening of Knott's Camp Snoopy (now Nickelodeon Universe) at the Mall of America, followed by Underwater World (now Sea Life Park) in which he served as director/developer of operations, husbandry and facilities from 1996-1997.
In 1996, Frawley moved to San Francisco to begin a 20-year endeavor focused on highlighting the unique biodiversity and conservation challenges of the Bay Area. His initial appointment as president and CEO of Aquarium of the Bay grew into leadership of, a broad alliance with Aquarium of the Bay, Sea Lion Center, The Bay Institute, EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park and Bay Model Alliance on spearheading the conservation and restoration of the Bay Area wetlands, freshwater flows and native endangered species. Under Frawley's guidance, is Northern California's largest watershed conservation group. Working under this umbrella organization, his achievements include significant private fundraising success, strong relationships with civic and state governmental agencies, implementation of successful conservation efforts, and creative partnerships – resulting in a 92% attendance increases at Aquarium of the Bay since 2001 and a 10% contribution to in situ conservation, exceeding the AZA's recommended 3%, therefore establishing among the top zoos and aquariums in the country for field conservation. Frawley sat on the board of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) from 2009-2012, and presently sits on AZA's Aquarium Affairs Committee.
He and his wife, Anita, who are relocating to their home in Welch, Minnesota, have two adult children who both reside in the Twin Cities.
The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round recreation, environmental education, and conservation destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. Its mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. Serving more than 1.2 million guests and students each year, the Zoo is a State Agency and opened to the public in 1978. The director of the Minnesota Zoo also serves as president of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that raises contributed income on behalf of the Zoo and its conservation efforts.
For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
A high resolution photo of John Frawley is available upon request to

A photo accompanying this release is available at:

CONTACT:Kelly Lessard 952.431.9217

Source: Minnesota Zoo